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PK figured out something was wrong when Carey slammed into the dressing room after a bad loss to Tampa Bay and snarled, "Larry, your passing was for shit, what the fuck."

They hadn't let the media in yet, so there was just the team, startled into silence in one side of the room. At first Larry looked shocked more than anything, but his eyes narrowed and he threw his shoulder pads into his stall more forcefully than usual.

PK couldn't remember Carey ever lashing out at teammates, especially not in the room. He stared over at him. Carey's face was twisted into an unpleasant expression that made PK's stomach turn over.

Prusty spoke up, "I could tell you a joke about passing shit that --"

Carey didn't let him finish. "Don't fucking get me started on your junior-level performance out there! Step it the fuck up!"

The weird tension was broken by Coach saying, "Listen up," at the other end of the room. Carey snapped his mouth shut and sat back down in his stall, head down and shoulders tense. PK kept an eye on him while he listened to Coach's wrap-up, but neither Carey, Larry, or Prusty seemed inclined to pursue it any further.

PK gave Carey his space, even though he usually nabbed the bike next to Carey during their post-game routine. Carey finished his exercises resolutely, his head down, and refused to make eye contact. PK swallowed down some of his own frustration at the loss, and tried to keep the attention away from Carey by taking the bike next to Gally and ribbing him about his pitiful attempt at a Movember mustache, until Gally managed to sputter, "Fuck you, anyway! It's for cancer!"

"It's for cancer," Prusty mimicked, and easily batted away Gally's flailing attempts to hit him from the bike.

Carey beat everyone to the shower, and by the time PK was back in the dressing room, Carey was already dressed in his suit. He brushed off Patches' offered, "Fuck Tampa anyway, Pricey," with an affirmative grunt, and disappeared.

"Fuck," Patches said, sighing.

PK clapped him on the shoulder. "Goalies, man," he said, lightly. "He'll be all right."

He wasn't able to convince himself about that, though. Carey took losses as hard as any of them, but he didn't take it out on his teammates. Carey was usually the guy in the room who kept his head and kept calm. He chirped as good as he got, sure, but it wasn't mean-spirited or personal.

PK was still feeling weird about the whole thing when he called his dad from the bluetooth in his car for their usual post-game talk.

"You notice anything weird about Pricey tonight?" he said, towards the end of their call. His new place was only a short drive from the Bell Centre, so they'd kept the conversation short.

"Hmm," his dad said. "He should've had that one in the second. But there were some bad bounces the whole game and he looked confident on his feet."

"Yeah," PK said.

"Why? What're you thinking?"

His dad knew him well enough to tell if PK was being evasive, so all he said was, "I don't know yet." He was almost at his street, so he said goodbye and hung up. The night was clear and cold enough for the stars to be visible, even with the Montreal city lights, and PK drove the rest of the way home through the dark streets in silence.


The next morning was an off day, with an optional skate in the afternoon. PK was up early, but he waited until 8am to text Carey: I'm taking you for breakfast. Be ready!!

Carey sent back: Not up for it.

PK was pretty good about knowing when to push and when not to push, especially when it came to Carey.

Bringing breakfast to you, then. See you in 20!

Carey didn't respond, so PK stopped off at the store to get the good kind of orange juice (organic, full of pulp) and eggs, cheese, and mushrooms for omelettes. It was closer to thirty minutes by the time he was knocking on Carey's front door, but for once Carey didn't comment on PK's tardiness.

"You didn't have to bring eggs. I have eggs," was all he said in greeting.

"Hello to you, too, beautiful," PK said. He ignored Carey's moue of distaste at the endearment, and handed Carey the recyclable shopping bag. "There wouldn't be an omelette without eggs." He knelt down to say hi to Motty and Duke, who took the opportunity to slobber over him enthusiastically. "Now you two really are beautiful," he said to them, and they whined happily at him.

Carey offered him a faint smile when he stood up. "I'm an adult. Not like Chucky or Gally or those other teenagers you're mother hen-ing all the time. I have eggs in my fridge."

Carey totally mother hen-ed the rookies in his own way, so PK ignored that and toed off his shoes. "Are you gonna let me out of your hallway and into your kitchen?" he demanded, and Carey rolled his eyes and stood back to let PK through.

It wasn't until PK was flipping the omelettes in the pan that Carey said, "You should just say what you need to say."

PK turned to look at him. Carey could be pretty poker-faced when he needed to be, and right now was apparently no exception. PK pointed the spatula at him. "You're acting guilty," he pointed out.

Carey made a face and took a sip of his smoothie, but PK noticed with satisfaction that he didn't deny it.

"I don't know what's going on," PK said, and tried to sound casual when he went on, "but you can talk about it if you want."

He served the omelette onto two plates with buttered toast, and sat down at the breakfast bar across from Carey. Carey nudged a bowl of apple slices toward him. They ate in a silence that was more comfortable than weighted.

"It was a toxic attitude to bring into the locker room," Carey said finally, once they were both finished breakfast. "I'm sorry. I'm going to try not to let it happen again."

PK looked up at him. "Man, I know you already know that," he said. "You don't have to apologize to me. And you know that's not why I'm here."

Carey met his gaze for a long moment, thoughtful. Then he gave a quick, fleeting smile, and drawled, "I guess you're here for dog walking services, then."

PK let him off the hook this time, especially since Motty and Duke, apparently well-attuned to the noises of a meal wrapping up, were eagerly waiting under their stools.

"I can't say no to those big brown eyes," PK said agreeably, scratching at Duke's ears. He winked at Carey, and Carey just shook his head.

"Flatterer," he said, but he looked less tense than when PK had shown up at his door. PK was willing to count that as a win.


At practice later that afternoon, PK saw Carey speaking quietly to Larry, and Larry clapped him on the back at the end of it, so PK figured they were probably okay. But Carey still didn't joke around the way he usually did, or loudly chirp the guys when they took shots on him.

PK thought back to Halloween. He'd hosted the team party at his new house, and Carey had come by himself. He'd been pretty low key -- PK couldn't remember if he'd seen Carey drink anything -- and left early. Carey usually had the guys over in August for a barbeque, but he hadn't this year. And PK knew for a fact that he hadn't been to any of the team dinners when they were on the road.

Carey had been pretty broken up around this time last year, PK remembered, because of his split with his wife. Maybe that was coming back to hit him hard -- Carey was the kind of person who seemed to absorb emotions with his whole body. PK didn't want to invade Carey's privacy, if whatever was going on with him was completely personal. Carey wasn't into sharing a whole lot about his private life. But, well. Exploding at the guys wasn't usual, and it was making PK worried.

His sister called after practice about the interviews she was setting up for him, and PK told her he was worried about Carey.

"That doesn't sound like him," Natasha said, when PK told her about his outburst in the dressing room. "Did you try bringing it up with him?"

"Yeah," PK said. "He apologized for making the room toxic."

"Hmm," she said.

"He basically didn't want to talk about it," PK said. "But I haven't given up hope. I can crack him open."

Natasha laughed. "That's the brother I know," she said. Then she added, more carefully, "It sounds like you're doing the right thing, making sure he knows he can count on you as a friend."

"Right," PK said.

The friendship line had always been blurry when it came to Carey -- but that was all on him, not Carey.

"Now that the counselling part of this phone call is over," Natasha said. "Can we talk about this interview?"

PK laughed and said, "Yeah, yeah," and let her work her magic.


It only took another two days of PK subtly projecting being available and willing to listen around Carey before Carey snapped.

"Subby. Stop hovering," he said, glaring up at PK from the exercise mat where he was doing his elaborate goalie stretch routine.

"Who's hovering?" PK said guiltily. To be honest, subtlety had never been his strong suit.

"I'm not gonna fly into a complete rage," Carey said. He rolled his eyes, but he didn't quite make eye contact with PK either.

"I just wanna invite you over to my place for dinner," PK said. "Perfectly innocent."

Carey didn't look convinced.

"Tonight?" PK said. "You can bring the dogs and we can walk them in the park near my place."

"That's very domestic of you," Carey said, after a moment.

"You can tell me what's on your mind," PK said. "Or not."

Carey shrugged, but eventually he gave a half-nod of agreement. PK gave him a friendly slap on the shoulder and left him alone.

He was at PK's door at six on the dot. He'd brought over a spinach salad, which PK immediately chirped him about even though it looked delicious, as well as Motty and Duke, who happily sprawled on the floor next the fireplace in PK's living room.

PK wasn't the best at cooking, to his mother's eternal despair, but he knew how to put chicken and potatoes in the oven, and he wasn't awful at it. Carey made gratifying sounds at how good it smelled when PK pulled it out, which was more satisfying than PK was prepared to admit.

"I want to tell you something," Carey said, after they'd eaten dinner. "But it's crazy."

PK sprawled back on the couch and raised his eyebrow. "Lay it on me."

"I mean, really crazy."

"More than the usual goalie crazy?" PK said, and grinned at Carey's expression. "Okay, okay, I'm bracing myself."

Carey was silent for a few minutes. "You grew up in Toronto. It's different out in the middle of nowhere. There isn't access to high speed internet and cable TV and satellite radio. It got cold and dark in the winter. So people tell stories."

PK was hit with a flash of memory of all his siblings crowded under a pile of blankets on one single bed in his sisters' room, limbs entangled, in the house they'd lived in when Jordan was born, and Natasha saying, "Let's tell a story."

He nodded.

"The stories are sometimes -- sometimes they take on a life of their own. Lots of times it's bullshit. But -- " Carey took a slow breath, and PK waited patiently. "My dad heard a story once about flying north on a full moon -- how a pilot got entranced by the moonlight and flew right past his destination. They say he kept flying until he ran out of fuel and then he just disappeared. When Dad first started taking me in the plane to Williams Lake, he'd make jokes about full moons."

Carey didn't talk much about those plane rides he and his dad used to take together so that Carey could play hockey. He'd shown PK a picture of the plane once. Young Carey had been standing in front of it, a hockey bag slung over his shoulder and a smile on his face. Kayla stood beside him, her face turned to look up at him and a blue toque on her head, holding a goalie stick that was twice as tall as her. The plane itself could seat four people, but it was barely any taller than a car and had a tiny propeller on its nose that didn't look like it could do much of anything. PK wasn't scared of flying, but he didn't particularly want to get into that thing, either.

PK shook his head. Carey was still talking. "Dad never liked to fly at night, though, and I didn't realize until I was eleven that it wasn't because he was worried about the dark. It was the moonlight he didn't like. I don't know, the story just got into his head."

PK wasn't particularly superstitious, but he'd been a hockey player his whole life and he understood that people sometimes latched onto these kinds of irrational and implacable beliefs. Carey's dad had played hockey, too; he'd been a goalie like Carey. Carey was also remarkably non-superstitious, but maybe his dad hadn't been.

"So. I won a rodeo event this summer with one of my buddies. Team roping. It was a charity thing in Williams Lake, small scale, mostly locals."

He paused. The change of subject had thrown PK for a loop, so he said, unrepentant and grinning, "Is this all just an excuse to tell me a cowboy story?"

Carey shot him a look. "No," he said simply. Then he added, "The trophy we won has been around in the community for ages. There's always been -- dumb stories about it. Pete Miller won it when I was thirteen and for the rest of the summer he'd tell anyone who would listen that five years ago he hadn't actually had pneumonia, he'd just wanted to get off work to go on a fishing trip to Costa Rica. It was weird. And Cam Johns won one year, and two weeks later he ran off and got married to a girl he'd apparently been in love with for years."

PK still had no idea where Carey was going with any of this. "Huh," he said.

"Weird stories. I never thought it was more than the usual bullshit about -- you know, the purity of the victor's heart. There's even an inscription on the base that says 'Speak only with a true heart.'"

"The cowboy motto," PK couldn't help but put in.

Carey's face made a complicated expression that PK couldn't quite parse.

"So," Carey went on. "So when they gave it to me, I felt this, uh, electric shock go through my body. It happened pretty fast, but it shook me up. And then I -- okay this sounds fucking weird, but ever since, I haven't been able to lie."

"Uh," PK said, and blinked at Carey in bemusement. "What?"

"It's more than not being able to lie. It's like -- a compulsion to tell the truth."

PK stared at him, trying to put the pieces of Carey's rambling story together. Moonlit airplane rides and rodeo trophies and Cam Johns getting married to the girl of his dreams. Okay. He had no idea what Carey was getting at.

"So you're only just now realizing you have a conscience?" he said at last, which even he had to admit was a weak attempt at a joke.

"No." Carey glared at him. "Fuck. This is crazy."

He seemed genuinely upset, and Carey wasn't the type to overreact. PK was pretty good at rolling with stuff, even weird stuff, so he said, "Okay, okay, so, a compulsion to tell the truth."

Carey was quiet for a moment, and then said, "Yeah. I've been able to mostly control it. It didn't bother me much in the offseason. I wasn't keeping things from people."

He paused again, and it occurred to PK to wonder if Carey was keeping things from people now. Though of course he was -- he'd been keeping this whole weird truth thing to himself. PK still didn't understand any of it, but it was clearly bothering Carey.

Still, unable to help himself, PK said, "What you're telling me is ... that you cannot tell a lie."

This time Carey rolled his eyes at PK. "Basically, but screw you for saying it like that."

"Okay, so, tell me the truth," PK added grinning, "it was you who put those purple sequins in Chucky's helmet that time, wasn't it?"

"Don't," Carey said abruptly. There was a pained, panicky look on his face. "Subby, I can't just -- please don't ask me stuff like that. Truth stuff. I can't -- I can't help wanting to answer."

PK stared at him, and it struck him with a sick kind of horror that if Carey really was under some weird compulsion to tell the truth, then asking him a question like that, tell me the truth,at a moment when he wouldn't be able to avoid answering, when he'd have absolutely no choice in the matter, was the worst betrayal of trust.

"Oh shit, man," PK said, and cleared his throat. "I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry."

Carey looked freaked, his eyes narrow and his shoulders hunched. PK couldn't ever remember him acting this way about anything. He'd been willing to roll with the long, boring rodeo story, since at the very least it kept Carey talking to him about what was bothering him. But it was clear that Carey meant it. That he believed he was under a spell or a compulsion or whatever to tell the truth, and it was the fault of some sort of weird cursed rodeo trophy.

This was definitely more than superstition. PK took a breath. "I'm sorry, I won't ask you truth questions again," he promised, and Carey's shoulders relaxed a little.

"Thanks," he said.

PK watched him for a moment. "So it was okay in the summer," he said, and Carey's eyes flicked up to his in agreement. "And now?"

"It's, uh, hard to keep a leash on it. When I'm tense. Or under pressure."

PK remembered Carey laying into Larry and Prusty after the Tampa Bay game. Then he thought back to practice a few weeks ago when Carey had given Chucky a sharp lecture on controlling his turnovers in the middle of practice, and then to that post-game interview Carey had given where he'd said the team all had a lot to work on and then refused to answer any more questions.

Carey was, in general, a man of few words. This current conversation was the most PK could remember Carey ever talking about his personal life sober. PK had found out about Carey's divorce because he'd noticed Carey didn't have his wedding ring on after practice, and he'd brought him back to his place and fed him alcohol until Carey told him what had happened. The bare bones, of course -- no details. And that was fine. PK knew he personally was probably on the over-sharing end of the spectrum, but he respected other people's privacy.

PK had been friends and teammates with Carey for long enough now to know how to pay attention. To Carey's facial expressions, his tone of voice, his eyes. To what he didn't say as much as what he actually said.

What he wasn't saying was how much this was wearing on him. This curse thing. That when Carey was calm he was clearly able to manage his truth-telling, by side-stepping the question or brushing it off as a joke. He'd been doing that with PK earlier in the week, when he'd kept distracting PK with dog walking or food. But when Carey was emotional, obviously he was not as able to control this compulsion thing. Or himself. And he was starting to spew the truth whether he meant to or not.

Carey was watching him carefully. His eyes were wide and dark and -- god, so fucking trusting, PK realized. Carey was trusting him by telling him this and trusting that he wouldn't violate it.

PK let himself take a long, slow breath.

It bothered him that he knew Carey as well as anyone, and he hadn't noticed something was wrong until now. He should have been paying more attention.

He'd been stepping up to heavy responsibility all his life. And they'd given him an 'A' this year, and that was a responsibility PK was proud to wear on his shoulder. And as Carey's teammate, he knew that they were looking down the tunnel of a long season, with a lot of expectations riding on the team -- and a lot of expectations on Carey. No matter how good Carey was at staying calm and controlled, the pressure was going to get a lot worse.

Besides which, Carey's current mental health strategies for dealing with a truth curse seemed to be avoidance and denial. PK couldn't really blame him, but those were not ideal long term solutions.

PK had never been into denial. And he couldn't quite bring himself to believe that Carey was deluding himself to this extent. Which left PK face to face with the sudden, surprising, and implausible fact that magic apparently existed.

Or at least that truth spells or truth curses existed. Or truth compulsions -- whatever you wanted to call them.

PK made a decision. There was no way he was abandoning Carey to deal with this by himself. "So this truth spell rodeo trophy," he said. "Where the hell is it?"

It turned out to be on display in Carey's mom's house in Anaheim Lake.

"Well, I think we should take a look at it," PK said. "Since it caused this whole business in the first place. Maybe it will tell us how to make it all go back to normal. Unless," he added, "you already know how to break the curse? True love's kiss?"

He grinned and winked. Carey gave a half-shrug and didn't meet PK's gaze.

Eventually, Carey said, doubtfully, "So you think it has -- what, a counter spell written on the bottom?"

"No, man, I don't know," PK said. "But it's a better lead than typing 'breaking magic truth-telling curse' into Google. Which is my other suggestion, by the way, and which I will be doing tonight after you leave."

"Oh my god," Carey said, and dropped his head into his hands.

"Maybe you should ask your parents if they know anything else about it," PK said. "Or talk to those other guys who won it. And get your mom to FedEx it to you. Tell her to pick it up with oven mitts or something! She probably shouldn't touch it with her bare hands."

"Oh my god," Carey said again.

"Also," PK added, "we should probably keep you away from the media."


Geneviève of the PR department was not especially sympathetic to the prospect of one of the team's superstars being inaccessible to the media for an undetermined amount of time for undisclosed reasons.

"I'm also unclear why you are here," she said to PK, frowning.

PK gave her his most charming grin. "Moral support," he said.

"You can't get rid of him," Carey said dryly.

"Well," Geneviève said. "Can you give me any further details?"

"It's a personal matter," Carey said. "I'm willing to make some statements to the press. But no post-game interviews. I'm having some difficulty, uh -- keeping emotions in check."

That was probably not the best excuse in the world, but considering Carey was hampered by the need to tell the absolute truth, it could have been worse.

"Probably not a good idea to have him on camera," PK supplied.

Geneviève looked concerned. "I want you to know that we are willing to help you find any kind of counselling or support you need --"

Carey looked appalled. "No, no! No. I just need some space."

Geneviève still did not look convinced, but she was willing to allow Carey a few weeks of grace. "You know as well as I do that you're a public leader in this organization. There are going to be a lot of questions, and eventually I'm going to need more than these limp excuses," she warned them.

"Sign me up for all his post-game interview spots," PK said, and tried to ignore the way his stomach fluttered at the grateful look Carey gave him in response.


The internet, it turned out, was pretty useless when a person had completely legitimate questions about completely legitimate supernatural phenomena. PK felt very let down. All the information and suggestions about curses and curse-breaking were of very questionable provenance.

PK had started texting Carey some of the weirdest suggestions he discovered. Some of them involved animal feces. Carey was adamantly against trying anything that came from the internet.

On the upside, Carey was texting him a whole lot more. On the downside, it was mostly to shoot down PK's ideas. PK was undeterred, though. Until they got a look at the trophy themselves and heard back from those other guys, PK was going to try to get as much information as he could.

"Have you been watching those vampire shows?" his mom asked him, after he'd dropped the words curse, mystical, and preternatural into their conversation about his nephew's birthday.

"No, Mom," PK said, doodling a little in the sketchbook on the table in front of him. He wasn't good at keeping things from his family, so there was a little guilt curling in his stomach. But this was definitely not his secret to tell. "I bet Malcolm could give you some recommendations," he added.

His mom made an unconvinced noise, but turned the conversation to her weekend plans, leaving PK to consider that a new obsession with supernatural TV shows would be a lot more believable than the truth.


Now that he knew that Carey wasn't able to lie, PK found himself hyper aware of everything that came out of Carey's mouth. He knew that he shouldn't, that he should try to give Carey as much privacy as possible. After all, Carey wasn't necessarily in control of his mouth or his words at any time. And PK was very careful not to ask questions or provoke Carey so that he'd blurt out any truths that he didn't already want to say aloud. But at the same time, PK couldn't help paying attention.

I know you can do better than that, Carey texted to PK after PK sent him the link to a particularly ridiculous curse-breaking spell that involved bathing in beet juice, and the truth of Carey's words settled around PK in a warm, comfortable way.

"Your wrister looked sharp today," Carey told Chucky on Tuesday at practice, and PK saw Chucky glow a little under Carey's praise.

"He's got a great smile," Carey said to Manny on Wednesday, who was showing everyone photos of his kids on his phone. Carey smiled a little at PK when he saw PK looking over at him, and PK gave him a cheesy thumbs-up in response.

"We're lucky to have the best fans in the world," Carey told a reporter from Le Journal, who managed to snag him in the hallway before the game. PK sent a trainer to extricate Carey from the impromptu interview before he got tripped up by another question, but something in PK's heart went molten to hear Carey say that and know that he meant it.

After they stormed into a win that night, with a shut out for Carey to boot, PK yanked him into a hug on the ice and yelled into his ear, "Triple fucking low five, Pricey!"

He'd said that to Carey after the gold medal game in Sochi, and Carey had given him a deliriously happy grin, pulled him into a hug, and said it back. It had felt momentous and intimate all at the same time, and PK wasn't sure exactly what led him to say it again, on the ice after a regular season win in November against Carolina, but he was bursting with warm feelings for Carey and it just slipped out.

Carey was laughing at him behind the mask, but PK heard him say, "Triple low five!" before he let him go.


"I dunno what you're hoping to find."

The package with the trophy arrived, and Carey had only reluctantly let PK look at it. He was hovering warily.

PK had armed himself with an old pair of hockey gloves and was carefully inspecting the trophy. It was a little two-handled cup, only six inches tall, and the silver plating was peeling pretty badly. As Carey had said, there was an inscription on the base that said, "Speak only with a true heart," which was pretty ambiguous as curses went. He turned it over to see if there was anything written on the bottom. There wasn't.

"I can't believe your mom wanted this thing on her mantlepiece," PK said.

"My mom supports all my accomplishments," Carey said with a perfectly straight face, and PK rolled his eyes at him in return.

"This isn't really telling us very much," he said at last, reluctantly.

Carey had the grace not to say "I told you so," out loud, but his expression was doing its best to convey that sentiment.

"Okay," PK added. "Are you sure you don't want to try the naked moon dance?"

"Screw you, I'm not doing that shit just because the internet tells me to," Carey said.

"Well, I'm not going to let you die of telling the truth or whatever," PK shot back.

Carey scoffed. "I'm not going to die of telling the truth."

That was probably true, but Carey didn't seem to have the same urgency as PK to find a way to break it. "You might," was all he said. "What if you told a reporter what you really think about the Bruins?"

"I told you about this so you'd help me not do that," Carey said. He paused and then said, "I'm pretty sure -- I think it will go away. On its own, I mean."

"Did you talk to those other guys about it?" PK asked eagerly.

Carey nodded. "One of them. He said it went away eventually."

Eventually. That wasn't entirely reassuring. "Is there anything you can do to help it along?" PK said.

"Like what?"

"I don't know, like -- come to terms with the truths that are in your heart or whatever."

Carey stared at him. "My heart?"

"Well," PK said. "I mean, that one guy told that women he loved her, and then they ran away and got married."

Carey had a funny expression on his face.

"I mean, I think it's metaphorical," PK added. "It's not like it's a true love spell or whatever. Because that doesn't explain the fishing trip guy." He paused. "Unless he's got a real thing for fish, I guess."

Carey's lips twisted into a sardonic smile. "Right," he said.

"Maybe the truth of your heart isn't something you have to speak out loud," PK said. "Maybe it's just a truth about yourself you need to acknowledge or come to terms with."

Carey was quiet for a moment.

"Uh," PK said, suddenly realizing his silence seemed expectant. "You don't have to tell me what the truth of your heart is or anything. But -- is there one?"

Carey said, slowly, "I guess so."

PK let out a slow breath, and gently knocked his shoulder against Carey's. "If it's a desire to win the Stanley Cup this year, don't worry. We're gonna light up the whole league."

Carey's smile was a bit brighter. "You betcha," he said.


The next night, they were on the road in Philadelphia, and PK made Carey come out to team dinner with them. Carey had barely been out to dinner the whole season, and even though PK understood why, it was clearly bad for morale. For both Carey and the team.

"I'll stay by your side the whole evening," he wheedled.

"I thought you wanted me to come to dinner," Carey said, raising his eyebrows.

"You know you can't get enough of me," PK said. Carey didn't say anything, but his mouth twitched a little at the corners. "I'll buy you a drink," PK added. "And I'll even let you talk about horses."

"Fine, okay," Carey said, and he sighed loudly, but to PK's delight he didn't seem actually reluctant.

The younger guys were obnoxiously happy to see Carey at the table with them again, and PK hide his smile behind his glass.

"Hey, Pricey, when're you going to invite us over to your place?" Gally demanded once their meals had arrived.

"Stop inviting yourself everywhere, you asshole," Chucky said, but he glanced sideways at Carey, too.

"I do not!" Gally turned to Carey again. "C'mon, Pricey, when's the party?"

"Hmm, how about the twelfth of never," Carey said.

Gally made a tragic face. "You just don't want me to obliterate your high score on Mario Kart," he said.

"Like you could," Carey said, rolling his eyes.

"I've already done that, anyway," PK put in.

"What?" Gally squawked. "You let Subby come over and not me?"

"He can't trust you with his many valuable possessions," PK said.

"Not all of us need three smartphones like you VIPs do," Prusty said to PK. "VIP stands for Very Irritating Person, you know," he told Gally, winking at PK across the table.

"Very Impotent Person," Gally added gleefully.

"Weak," PK pronounced. "You're both worth less than a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of my designer shoe."

There was a sequence of chirping around the table after that, and when PK glanced over at Carey, he was smiling and soaking it all in.

In the hotel hallway after dinner, Carey looked relaxed, and he gave PK one of his genuine smiles. "Hey, thanks for getting me out tonight. That was fun."

PK still wasn't over the rush of endorphins he got every time Carey said something like that, knowing that he really meant what he said.

"You bet," he said. Impulsively, he leaned forward to give Carey a quick hug, his face pressed momentarily into the warm crook of Carey's neck and shoulder. "Triple low five," he whispered into Carey's ear.

"Triple low five," Carey said back, and PK could hear the smile in his voice.


The game in Philadelphia was a disaster. They couldn't generate any offence to speak of, none of their passes seemed to connect, and they kept turning over the puck and taking stupid penalties.

After the game came to a pitiful 5-1 finish, PK vented some of his frustration on the treadmill. Losing like that always weighed heavily on him, and working some of it off in sweat sometimes helped a bit.

Besides, tonight he had Carey in the back of his mind. The way Carey had been smouldering with anger in his crease during the third was giving PK an unpleasant feeling in the pit of his stomach.

He called his dad in the deserted hallway before he went back into the dressing room. His dad's calm, sensible voice rumbled through him, reassuring and familiar, and PK tried to let his shoulders relax.

Back in the room, PK steeled himself to face the microphones for a post-game interview. Geneviève had kept her word about keeping Carey away from the reporters, and considering the way Carey appeared to be seething with anger and frustration, that was probably a good thing.

After the media had left, PK looked for Carey. He was dressed in his suit and coat, jamming a toque on his head, his hair still wet from the shower. PK could see the way he was still keeping away from everyone, avoiding eye contact and coiled in on himself.

He didn't want to push at the wrong time, but there was no way PK was going to let Carey be alone in this, not when he didn't have to be.

PK managed to corner him in the hotel elevator. "Fuck off, PK," Carey said, his eyes narrowed and his mouth in a flat, hard line.

"Fuck you if you think I'm gonna let you suffer by yourself," PK shot back.

Carey didn't say anything, but he strode away as soon as the elevator doors dinged open. PK followed and pushed himself bodily into Carey's hotel room.

"Come on," he said. "You can't keep it all bottled up like that. Yell at me, tell me any fucking thing you want, I don't care."

Carey's face was red and his hands were clenched into fists. He took a step backwards, away from PK. "Fuck you!" he hissed. "You don't know what I --"

He stopped. He looked like he was grinding his teeth together to stop himself from saying things out loud.

Fuck, PK thought.

"You can't say anything to me that will stop me being your friend," he said with determination, and walked closer to Carey until Carey was backed up against the wall, lips pressed together, glaring at him. "Or your teammate."

Carey didn't say a word, just shook his head.

"Come on! Let it out!" PK demanded again, and stepped right into Carey's personal space.

Carey's hands came up between them and he gripped PK's suit jacket. He was probably ruining the fabric, PK thought fleetingly. He found himself staring at Carey's mouth. Carey's chest was heaving like he'd just done a bag skate, but he was trying to keep his mouth closed at the same time, and his lips looked red and -- bitten. As if he'd been biting his lips, PK realized, to stop himself from spewing painful truths on his already frustrated and upset teammates, who didn't need to be told how they'd messed up.

"Carey, come on," PK said softly, and Carey made a weird, wounded noise and flipped them, pinning PK up against the wall with his body, his hands still tangled in PK's jacket. PK's hands had somehow wound up at Carey's waist, anchoring them together.

Abruptly, PK realized his dick was paying a whole lot of attention to Carey being all up in PK's personal space.

Just as abruptly, he realized that Carey's dick was also hard, and was pressed into his thigh.

"Fucking fucking fuck," Carey muttered.

PK tried to concentrate on breathing. Carey's eyes were closed, and PK stared distractedly at the length of Carey's eyelashes against his cheekbones. His face was bent towards PK, and he was still panting.

Carey just needed some help easing the tension, PK thought. People get tense when they don't get laid. That was something he could do for Carey.

He ignored the way his heart flipped over. His own feelings were not going to be helpful in this situation.

He rubbed the hollow of Carey's lower back tentatively.

Carey let out a low moan and let his forehead drop to the wall next to PK's head.

"Okay," PK breathed. "Okay. Fuck, Carey, just let me --"

He tugged Carey toward him and shoved his thigh between Carey's legs. Carey ground his dick down immediately into it, his hips snapping into PK's, and PK said, "Yeah, yeah," and brought his other hand up to cup the back of Carey's head.

"Jesus fucking Christ," Carey gritted out, and then he dropped his head into PK's neck and untangled one of his hands from PK's jacket to grab his ass.

Carey smelled like that special moisturizing soap he carried with him everywhere, and God, PK hadn't ever realized how good it smelled, clean and sweet on Carey's skin, with a hint of sweat coming through. He wanted to bury himself in Carey's skin. He rolled his hips up against Carey's, again, and then again, craving more of the pressure on his dick.

Carey muttered something against the skin of his neck, but PK couldn't tell what he was saying. His skin felt hot all over, and he used the hand not gripping Carey's waist to squeeze between them and tug his own tie loose. He managed to undo the top buttons on his shirt as well, which Carey took as an invitation to bury his face in the skin of PK's collarbone. Shit. PK's body arched into Carey's at the touch of Carey's mouth on him. He wasn't kissing or sucking, really -- it was like Carey was breathing words out onto his skin, PK realized, too low and too fast for PK to hear any of them.

"Carey, Carey," PK said, feeling hot and desperate all at once, and very aware of the fact that Carey hadn't actually consented to anything. "Carey. Please, you gotta tell me -- Do you want this?"

As if in answer, Carey slid his hand over PK's cock, and PK gasped out loud. It occurred to him belatedly that he had just asked Carey a truth question, which he'd promised not to do. Not to mention that the question was more than a little ambiguous. But it was also suddenly very important that PK know the answer -- and maybe it was unforgivably selfish, but he didn't want to take it back.

"Carey --" he said desperately, his hips unconsciously bucking into the pressure of Carey's hand.

"Yeah," Carey said, his voice raspy and only a little muffled by PK's neck. "I wanna see your dick."

PK flushed hot at the raw honesty and inherent trust in Carey's voice and said, "Fuck, yes, fuck, I wanna see you, too."

He reached for Carey's dick while Carey fumbled at the fly on PK's suit pants. Their hands tangled and prompted Carey to let out a string of barely comprehensible swear words before they managed to get a hand on each other.

PK moaned shamelessly when Carey curled his warm fingers around him. He spread his legs as far as his tailored pants would let him.

"Your fucking hands," Carey said, voice low and raw. He'd raised his head just enough to stare down at PK's hand curled around his dick. PK let go and, ignoring Carey's noise of complaint, brought his palm to his mouth to lick it, sloppy and wet. He grinned when Carey let out a groan, and sucked two fingers into his mouth to get them wet, too. Carey's eyes were huge and dark, his cheeks flushed, and his mouth bitten red. He watched PK for a long moment, his breath coming hard and fast and his hand on PK's dick going still. PK slid his fingers out of his mouth and wrapped his slick hand around the hard length of Carey's dick. Carey buried his face in PK's neck again, whatever he was saying muffled against PK's skin, and started jacking PK with renewed determination.

PK tried not to lose the rhythm of his own hand, but it was difficult not to fall completely under Carey's spell, his hand hot and tight, his mouth wet and open against PK's neck, his weight pressing PK into the wall. He was using PK's precome to slick his cock, and PK could feel every single slide of his fingers and every twist of his wrist.

"Jesus fucking Christ, Carey," PK managed, and Carey might have said something in reply, but PK couldn't hear him because he was too busy coming, hard and fast and breathless, all over Carey's hand and his own suit.

He tried to keep his hand moving on Carey's dick, but his coordination was totally shot. Carey was rutting his hips into PK's thigh and PK said, mindlessly, "Yeah, yeah, c'mon, Carey," and curled his other hand around the back of Carey's head again, his hair soft under PK's fingers. Carey jerked in his arms and came, letting out a long, low groan, his body trembling a little against PK's.

They stood like that for a long moment, both of them breathing heavily, Carey slumped against PK, and PK carding his hand gently through Carey's hair.

"My tailor's gonna to hate me for ruining this suit," PK said finally, and Carey raised his head, his face flushed and eyes dark, to look at him. His hair was sticking up where PK's hand had been touching him.

"Don't go billing me for that," Carey said, his voice thready, but his amusement still coming through.

"You should at least take some partial credit," PK said, grinning at him.

Carey's slow smile in response was warm, so PK tried to tamp down his disappointment when Carey stepped away from him and tucked his cock back into his boxers.

"I could really use something to eat," Carey said.

"There's a turkey burger on the room service menu," PK said, and this time Carey's smile looked as easy and relaxed as anything.


PK slept in his own room that night. He'd left Carey after sharing a turkey burger and companionably watching the hockey highlights -- although Carey turned it off when they got to the highlights of their game. They were both going to have to go over the tape before the next game, but there was no need to relive it before bed.

Carey had seemed relaxed and comfortable, and completely unlike a person who was about to spill his most deeply buried secrets onto unsuspecting ears. At breakfast, he seemed okay, too, tossing PK the little packet of raspberry jam from across the table, and smiling at Prusty's eye-roll-worthy attempts to lighten the mood.

"We're too good to let this game drag us down," he said at the team meeting before they headed to the airport.

PK knew Carey wasn't completely back to normal. He'd stumbled over his words when Manny asked him how he was feeling, and he'd looked guarded when the goalie coach came over to talk with him.

PK wasn't naive enough to imagine that a single desperate handjob from a teammate would break whatever stupid rodeo truth curse Carey was under, but it did seem to have helped. At least a little. And that gave PK something to work with.

By the time they got back to Montreal the next day, they were all pretty exhausted from the road trip. Carey seemed regular-tired rather than emotional-curse-tired, so PK tried not to worry about letting Carey go home by himself.

He showed up at Carey's door the next morning, though, with a paper bag from Carey's favourite bakery.

Carey was sleepy-eyed, and still dressed in his T-shirt and boxers when he opened the door, but Motty and Duke were wide awake and happy to see PK. He handed the paper bag to Carey and bent down to say hello to the dogs.

"Are these croissants?" Carey said.

"Yep," PK replied cheerfully.

"God," Carey sighed long-sufferingly, like he didn't love it every time PK brought them over, and he headed for the kitchen where PK heard him put the coffee maker on.

"Okay, so, orgasms," PK said, after they'd eaten.

Carey choked on his coffee. "What," he said.

"They're a thing you do. With guys."

PK was resolutely not asking any specific questions, but he couldn't help darting a quick glance in Carey's direction. Carey was staring impassively at his mug.

"I do, too," PK said, heart in his throat. "With guys." Carey's head snapped up, and PK said, "Sometimes. Girls, too. Not usually at the same time, but, well, you know." He grinned. Carey didn't smile back.

"The orgasm seemed to help," PK added. "At least I think it did."

Again, PK determinedly did not make it a question.

Carey's face was flushed. He put down the mug. "Yeah," he said finally, not making eye contact. "It helped."

"Okay, then!" PK said. "Consider me your friendly neighbourhood orgasm buddy."

"That's not --" Carey said and stopped. "Let's not call it that."

"We can call it whatever you like," PK said cheerfully. "So from now on, if you start feeling too truthy, you can call me, and we'll, you know, release a bit of your tension. Okay?"

Carey was still red in the face, and there was a flaky piece of croissant on his lower lip. PK had to fight the urge not to lick it off. But kissing over breakfast was not something they'd covered yet, and PK was pretty sure he needed to let Carey have a bit of space first.

"Do you," Carey said, and stopped. "Do you ever think about telling people?"

PK knew he was not talking about curses.

"Yeah," he said slowly. "Yeah. I mean, my family already knows, and some of my friends. But yeah, I think about it. If it was -- if the person was the right one, it would be worth it. He would be worth it. You know? Not the media, necessarily, but the important people. Family. Friends. Teammates. And maybe the media, too, later on. When we were both ready."

Carey cleared his throat, and his dark eyes darted up to meet PK's. "It'd be a big responsibility. Telling everyone."

PK nodded. "Yeah. But worth it. It's worth it when a young black kid tells me he started playing hockey because of me. That's not a responsibility I asked for, you know? But I think it's important for me to carry it."

"Yeah," Carey said softly.

There wasn't any point adding this, but PK had thought about what it would mean to be in a relationship with a teammate, too. And how much that, too, would be worth it. For the right person.

"Okay," Carey said at last, and at first PK wasn't sure what he meant. Carey added, "Okay to releasing tension through orgasms."

"Right," PK said, and took a breath. "Great. " And he wondered why he felt sort of cold, sitting in Carey's bright warm kitchen in a patch of December sunlight, with his stomach full of buttery croissants and the dogs sleeping comfortably on the floor.


PK hadn't meant to avoid talking to his family over the last week. He'd been talking with his dad after games, of course, like always, and he was still chirping Jordan and Malcolm by text after each one of their games. But worrying and thinking about Carey had taken up a lot of PK's time, and he wasn't good at keeping things from his family. It had been an unconscious thing to dial down his regular level of communication with them, but it still shouldn't have been a surprise when Natasha bypassed the string of unanswered text messages and called him.

"Are you dying under a rock somewhere?" she demanded, after PK muted the TV and answered.

PK winced guiltily. He should be glad it wasn't his mom asking that question.

"Not dead, only in danger of death by enraged sibling," he said.

"You bet your ass," Natasha said.

"Sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have disappeared. I have a friend who -- Well, I'm just worried about someone right now."

"Hmm," Natasha said. "I know I'm your nagging older sister, but I'm also your personal assistant. And you need to stop ignoring me."

"I'm sorry," PK said again. "Cross my heart."

"Also, as your nagging older sister," she added. "Does this have anything to do with how worried you were about Carey?"

PK coughed.

"Right," Natasha said.

"Look," PK said. "I love you, but --"

"You don't have to tell me private details," Natasha said. "I would never ask you to tell someone else's secrets. But you do have to tell me about you. I worry about you."

"You're an incurable meddler," he said accusingly.

"Inherited from Mom," Natasha said cheerfully.

PK hummed at her. "I'm okay," he said. "Just, you know, a little stressed. I wish I could tell you more, but I'd be betraying a confidence."

His sister was quiet for a moment. "I know you," she said. "You have a very generous heart, PK. Be careful with it."

PK thought again about the memory Carey's story had reminded him of, Natasha arranging all of his brothers and sisters under a pile of blankets on a single bed, tucking arms and legs under the covers, saying, "Let's tell a story."

"I'll try," he said, but he was beginning to think it might be far too late on that score.


They managed to pick up two points in Colorado, and although Carey looked a little rattled after the game, he agreed to speak to the media. Geneviève looked relieved, and she smiled widely at PK.

PK kept an eye on him, and he seemed to do okay, taking his time to make circuitous answers to some of the questions to avoid saying yes or no. It wasn't his usual style, but no one called him out on it.

Carey hadn't said another word about whatever truth was in his heart that he needed to set free, but he also didn't seem to have done it yet. Of course, PK had no idea how the timeline worked with supernatural curse breaking. Maybe there was an administrative lag.

He wondered what could possibly have been bothering Carey so much that some old rodeo trophy had zoned in on it. He also hoped that they were right about it going away in time.

"Stop staring at me all the time," Carey snapped at him.

"I can't help admiring your unearthly beauty," PK said.

Carey looked unimpressed. "It puts me on edge."

He looked pretty sincere, and PK was definitely not into freaking Carey out more than usual. "Sorry," PK said. "I just wanna make sure you're okay."

Carey's eyes flicked away from PK's. "I promise I'll come to you if I need -- help with tension."

That was the most honest promise PK could ever hope to get, so he nodded and gave Carey his space.

By the time they finished up in Dallas, barely managing a win, Carey looked pretty wrecked. He was usually one of the most grounded and calm people in the room, and PK could see it was shaking them all up to see him so unlike himself. Prusty was giving him worried looks and conferring in a low voice with Manny, and Patches had asked PK in an undertone if PK thought he should talk to Carey.

PK did his best to set everyone at ease. And he kept his word to Carey and didn't push. Instead, he talked to his dad, bought a Mars bar in the hotel vending machine, and pulled his sketchbook out of his bag to try to keep himself from thinking about Carey a few doors down the hall.

It was almost eleven when Carey knocked on his hotel room door. He looked strung out, and PK let him in without saying a word.

"I didn't know," Carey said, and PK said, "It's okay, it's okay, come here," and pulled Carey close to him.

Carey twisted away from his grip, though, tugged at PK's T-shirt, and said, "Get this off."

PK smirked and said, "Yeah, you know you like my abs," before pulling the shirt over his head.

Carey didn't spend as much time admiring PK's abs as PK thought they deserved -- he'd spent a lot of time working on them -- and instead just dropped to his knees.

"Fuck," PK said with great feeling. "Fuck," he said again, as Carey pulled his boxers down to his ankles and got his mouth right on PK's dick.

PK wasn't hard, but it wasn't going to take long for that to change. Carey was a little sloppy and uncoordinated, in a way that made PK suspect he probably hadn't given blowjobs before. But he was going for it, enthusiastic and determined, and fuck if that wasn't doing it for PK. He alternated sucking PK's soft dick into his mouth, and then slowly licking up the length. One of his long-fingered hands cupped PK's balls, the kind of warm, half-ticklish pressure that PK liked, and his other hand was anchored at PK's waist, keeping him still against the wall.

PK let his hands drop to Carey's head, curling his fingers in Carey's hair.

If helping Carey come to terms with the truth in his heart was going to include sex while being held against the wall, then PK was your man. PK was definitely your man. Honestly, if PK had any chance whatsoever to have Carey, in whatever form he could get him, then he was your man.

PK let his head thunk against the wall behind him, and tried to regain control of his breathing. He was hard already, definitely hard, and Carey was getting into it, taking more of PK's cock into his mouth, choking a little and pulling back before going down again. His tongue poked teasingly at the slit of PK's dick and his hand stroked up to meet his lips, stretched wide around PK.

Carey's thumb was making small circles against the skin of PK's hip, and PK brought one of his own hands down to rest on Carey's, their fingers tangling together on PK's waist. Carey's fingers were warm. PK's chest felt heavy, weighted down with so much he didn't know how to process it all.

His dick was slick with Carey's spit and his own precome, and his hips stuttered forward uncontrollably, desperate for Carey's hot, wet mouth. Carey's hand tightened on PK's waist, and PK gasped, "Sorry, sorry." It was impossible not to want more of Carey or more of Carey's mouth, not when he was so fucking perfect like this. PK was having trouble remembering why they weren't doing this all the time.

He could feel his orgasm building in his body, coiled hot in his balls, and rippling in waves up his spine. It was not goddamn fair of Carey to use his tongue like that, or make that noise like that, or to glance up at PK through his eyelashes while his mouth was stretched wide around PK's dick.

"Carey, Carey," PK managed to gasp, and usually he was a bit more polite about this kind of thing, but that was all he could say before he was coming, muscles tensing, hips arching, fingers clutching at Carey's hair.

PK slumped against the wall, his heart racing and his breath coming short and fast. He was dimly aware that reciprocation was necessary here, but it was currently a struggle to remember how his limbs worked.

Carey was still on his knees in front of him, face flushed and eyes closed. PK's come was splattered on his neck and T-shirt, and PK was momentarily annoyed that he hadn't made Carey take off his shirt too, so he'd be able to see his come all over Carey's naked shoulders.

"You look really hot right now," PK said. His one hand was still tangled in Carey's hair, so he gently pet Carey's head. Carey blinked up at him.

"I --" Carey said, and that one syllable came out raspy and thick.

PK knew he shouldn't, knew it wasn't anything he had a right to, but he desperately wanted to know what Carey was going to say in that moment.

Instead, he said, "Can I blow you?"

"Yes," Carey let out, and it sounded half-strangled. PK didn't think either of them had the motivation to move anywhere else, so he slid to the floor, and shoved Carey onto his back so he could get at Carey's cock.

He was leaking in his boxers, and seeing how hard Carey was just from blowing him gave him a hot and satisfied thrill. He didn't waste any time and wrapped his hand around the base of Carey's cock and dropped his head to get his mouth on him. The noise Carey made was unbelievable, raw and breathless and startled.

PK generally believed in taking his time with blowjobs, even when he was crouched awkwardly on the floor. But this was clearly not the time, as Carey's hips were already bucking up and he was letting out a string of garbled moans. When PK glanced up, Carey had the heel of his hand in his mouth and his eyes fiercely shut. When he came, shooting partly into PK's mouth and mostly all over the hem of his own ruined T-shirt, the sounds he made were muffled against his hand.

They lay on the floor for another few moments, breathing heavily.

"Hey," Carey said at last. He sat up, and reached out to touch PK's arm. His voice was still rough from having PK's dick in his throat. "Thanks."

"You don't have to thank me," PK said, trying to be as sincere as he knew Carey was being. "You know I'd do anything for you, man."

A sad sort of smile flitted across Carey's face. Before PK could even figure out what to say, Carey was gracefully getting up and pulling PK to his feet as well.

"Hydration?" he offered, and PK didn't want to push again, didn't want to ask all the truth questions on the tip of his tongue, so he nodded and smiled and chugged the blue Gatorade Carey handed him, and tried not to think about how much he wished he could taste his own come in Carey's mouth.


"Pricey told me my cheeks were cheerful and rosy," Gally said to PK in an undertone, two days later. At least, it was what passed as an undertone for Gally. Patches gave them a funny look and then clearly decided to ignore the entire conversation. PK couldn't blame him.

"Aww," PK said to Gally. "Young love."

Gally made a face at him. "Seriously, though. He's okay, right? He also told me to wear my dark green sweater again because it complements my eyes."

PK raised an eyebrow. "Well, that sweater does complement your eyes."

Gally glared at him, and his cheeks took on that youthful rosy glow Carey had been admiring.

"Sounds like he's messing with you," PK said. "I can already see wrinkles on your face, so I don't know what he's talking about." He laughed when Gally muttered at him and stomped away to the showers.

It was clear that Carey was still feeling the compulsion to tell the truth, since he'd never been given to compliments of that sort before. PK turned that over in his mind.

"You're weirding out the young'uns," he told Carey later that afternoon, after Carey texted him to come over and then pushed him down on the couch and sucked his cock until his brain was a pile of mush.

Carey was sprawled next to him on the couch, still panting a little, legs spread wide, dick softening on his thigh. PK could still taste Carey's come in his mouth.

"What," Carey said lazily.

"You told Gally he had beautiful eyes."

"I did not," Carey said.

PK grinned at him. "He's weirded out," he said.

Carey's lips twitched, and he stretched his arms over his head, arching his chest upwards. PK didn't think Carey should ever get dressed again.

"Are you -- " PK said and stopped.

"I don't know," Carey said. They lay there in silence until the dogs started whining from behind the door where Carey had shut them up in the kitchen, and PK was the sap who got up to let them back into a room with people again.


They were playing the Islanders the next day, and after practice PK made sure to catch Carey's eye. "I'm meeting Tavares for dinner," he said.

"Yes, yes, we know, you're a social butterfly," Prusty said, swatting at PK as he swaggered past them in the hallway.

"Better a butterfly than a slug like you," PK yelled after him.

Carey's eyes were crinkled in amusement. "Not your best chirp," he said.

"Shove your opinion where the sun don't shine," PK shot back cheerfully.

Carey rolled his eyes. "Have fun at dinner," he said.

PK caught at Carey's sleeve before he could turn away. "I just meant, you can text me later if you wa -- if you need to. I'll just be out for dinner."

"Sure," Carey said.


John was already at the restaurant when PK showed up. He was smiling at a girl near the bar and signing a napkin for her.

"Hey, superstar," PK said, sliding up behind him after the girl had backed away, blushing and smiling.

John gave him a flat-eyed look. "Like you don't have this city in the palm of your hand," he said.

PK smirked at him. "Still working on getting the whole world in the palm of my hand, though," he said.

John guffawed. "Sure," he said, grinning at him. "Tell your sister I said hi."

"Fuck you," PK said easily. "Like you'd have a chance, anyway."

After they ordered and shit-talked each other's point production, John said, "So what's going on with you? You've barely texted me at all in the last month."

"What?" PK demanded. "I text you all the time."

"Lies," John said easily. "You shacking up with someone or something?"

PK wasn't able to school his expression quickly enough, because John's eyes went wide. "You are!"

"Okay, okay," PK said. "But I can't really tell you about it. It's complicated."

"Fucking hell," John said, and his grin was dimming a little. Because he knew PK so well, he added, "It's someone on the team or in the organization, isn't it?"

They were in a corner booth with no one else nearby, but PK couldn't help the impulse to dart a quick glance around them.

"Well," John said, after a moment.

"Have you ever heard of anyone being forced to tell the truth?" PK asked abruptly.

John stared at PK. "Like, legally forced?" he said.

"More like, uh, magically," PK said. "You know what, never mind."

"Man, what is happening with you?" John said, and he looked worried now.

Maybe it was the glass of wine, maybe it was remembering the way Carey's eyes had darted towards him when he'd said Do you ever think about telling people, maybe it was John's calm and reassuring presence. PK blurted out, "I'm in love with someone who I'm pretty sure doesn't love me back."

"Oh. Oh, wow," John said weakly.

"Didn't mean to lay it on you like that," PK said after a moment, apologetically.

"No, no," John said. "I mean, I was expecting dinner and smack talk, that's all. I can readjust to emotional support."

"I can't really bring it up with anyone on the team," PK said.

"Yeah," John said. "What, uh, makes you so sure about the other person's feelings?"

He can't tell a lie, PK thought. Not to mention, Carey was relying on PK to help him, not to have awkward and inconvenient emotions about him. PK wasn't even sure Carey would ever have sex with him if he wasn't under a spell.

That last thought really made PK feel like a pile of crap.

"There are circumstances," he said.

"Well, like I said," John said. "You've got a city in the palm of your hand, what's one more person to wrap around your little finger?"

PK smiled at him. "That's why you're my favourite," he said.


Carey didn't show up at his place that night or text him, which only made PK feel a little disappointed.

He'd been thinking about things, though. About the way Carey dropped so quickly to his knees when PK showed up at Carey's door. About Carey stuffing the heel of his hand in his mouth when PK was blowing him. About Carey keeping his lips stubbornly closed and biting his lip hard enough to make it bleed.

PK didn't know what words Carey was fighting to hold back. Maybe he had pointers on PK's sexual technique. If he did, PK legitimately wanted to hear them -- he was pretty secure in the fact that he was awesome at sex, but he was a professional athlete and he knew there were always areas to improve. Besides which, if Carey had pointers for how PK could have better sex with Carey, well, no brainer, PK would listen.

Maybe the things he was holding back were mean or nasty or hurtful. But even when Carey had blown his lid and yelled at the team, it was usually about their lazy technique or mistakes on the ice. He didn't tend to get personal, even when he couldn't control what he was saying.

Besides, at the same time, Carey had said all those complimentary things to Gally. So maybe he had complimentary things to say to PK, too. PK could still remember the tone of Carey's voice when PK had wrapped his hand around Carey's dick that first time, the way he'd choked out, "Your hands --" PK knew what a sex compliment sounded like and that had definitely been one. But if Carey didn't want to say complimentary things out loud to PK -- well. Maybe he didn't want PK to get the wrong idea. Maybe he'd figured out PK had feelings for him, and didn't want him to think Carey felt the same way.

PK didn't know what was worse -- wanting so desperately to know what Carey clearly didn't want to say out loud, or knowing Carey was doing it to make sure PK didn't think Carey returned his feelings.

The worst thing of all was that PK didn't want to stop having fast and dirty blowjobs with Carey. He wanted to have sex in a bed one of these days, and he wanted to kiss Carey's stubborn, bitten-red mouth, and he wanted Carey to stumble into his kitchen in the mornings with his hair sleep-mussed and his dogs wagging their tails at the back door. But if that wasn't going to happen, then there was a small selfish part of PK that wanted Carey to never admit whatever that nagging truth in his heart was, and to never get over this stupid truth spell.

God. That made him a first-rate asshole.

There was something he'd been turning over in his mind, though. He'd never really been into personally, but -- if Carey was worried about saying something out loud while they were having sex, well, perhaps PK could do something about that.


Natasha texted him in the morning after game day skate, Say hi to John for me. :)

She was happily married, but that didn't stop her from tormenting PK every time the Isles came to town.

Tell him yourself, PK texted back.

"You got a booty call going on there, Subby?" Patches said, knocking his shoulder against PK's.

"Yeah, he does," chipped in Prusty. "With Tavares."

PK tossed an empty water bottle at him. "You don't even know the amount of game I got," PK said.

Prusty laughed at him and lobbed the bottle at Chucky instead.

"Gonna introduce us one of these days?" Patches added over the noise of the outraged complaint and scuffle that followed.

PK did not let himself look across the room at Carey. Patches had asked him this before, and his usual line in response was I don't wanna subject anyone to you losers.

This time, feeling foolish but unable to help himself, he said, "Maybe. I hope so, man."

Patches smiled at him and clapped him on the shoulder. "That'd be great," he said.


Carey turned up at PK's house after the game while PK was still on the phone with his dad. His hands were shaking a little, though he didn't seem as outwardly desperate as he sometimes did. Even so, PK said, "Sorry, Dad, I should go here. Love you. Bye," and hung up.

"You say hi from me?" Carey said.

PK rolled his eyes, as obviously he hadn't said anything of the sort. "Next time I will," he said.

"Good." Carey was still a demanding asshole, because all he said next was, "Take off your shirt."

PK was still in his game day suit, though he had stripped off the jacket and was down to a pale pink shirt and purple striped tie. His jacket was already folded carefully over a chair in his kitchen. Carey, meanwhile, had already managed to change into jeans.

"You take off your shirt," PK shot back.

Carey was pulling off his winter jacket and boots. When he stood up, he stripped his henley off without a second thought and then made a get on with it gesture at PK. He had a determined look on his face, like he was ready to suck PK down in the front hallway.

PK grabbed his arm gently and tugged him back towards the staircase, hoping he could coax Carey up to his bedroom. He was walking backwards, which wasn't nearly as graceful as skating backwards, but it seemed important at that moment to maintain eye contact.

"Look, hey," PK said. "Don't get me wrong -- I wanna do this. I really wanna do this."

Carey kept pace with him, watching him and waiting for him to go on. The shadows of his eyelashes were falling onto his cheeks.

"I just thought maybe we could try it on a bed for once," PK said. "I have a nice one upstairs." He flashed Carey a grin.

"I guess it would save our knees," Carey said slowly. He was still watching PK carefully, as if waiting for a punchline.

"Exactly," PK said, and tugged Carey up the stairs to his bedroom.

Carey got with the program when he saw PK's bed, and quickly pulled off his socks, unzipped his jeans, and pushed down his boxers. When he looked back at PK, he said, in an aggrieved tone, "You still have all your clothes on."

Even with the annoyed expression on his face, and the faint lines of tension visible on his forehead and temples, Carey was the most gorgeous human being PK had ever seen. He dimly acknowledged that his opinion was biased, but it didn't matter, not when he had Carey standing naked in front of him in the warm glow of the bedside lamp, getting clearly more annoyed the longer PK stood and looked at him.

PK couldn't help himself any longer. He stepped forward until he was right in front of Carey, and reached out to cup his cheek. Carey drew in a breath and his eyes widened, but he didn't move away. So PK brushed his mouth gently over Carey's, and when Carey's lips parted with a hitch of his breath, PK kissed him again. He could feel his heart pounding in his own ears, and he wanted to stay there forever, savouring the feel of Carey's tongue flicking out to meet his, and the way Carey let his mouth drop open in invitation.

Abruptly, Carey let out a wounded sound and pulled away. His lips were red and wet from PK's mouth, and PK couldn't stop staring at them. "I don't think I --" Carey said and stopped, a mutinous expression on his face.

"You don't want to accidentally say something bad in bed," PK said.

He wasn't sure how to say to Carey that PK was willing to trust him. Carey might say something to PK -- okay. It might be a true thing. It might be a thing that PK didn't know Carey thought, and it might be a thing that would make PK think Carey had feelings that he didn't. PK could see why Carey was looking at the bed like a minefield.

But he wanted to tell Carey that even though Carey might say something that hurt PK's feelings, PK trusted him enough to know that it wasn't something he would usually say. He wanted to be able to say that even if it was a compliment that might lead him on, he still -- selfishly -- wanted to hear it.

"Something like that," Carey said finally. He'd stepped backwards, away from PK, and the back of his legs were now flush with the bed. PK saw with a thrum of pleasure that Carey was already getting hard.

"Okay," PK said. "Okay." He was working on his breathing: full breaths, in and out, in and out. Stay calm. Don't spook your goalie. "I have an idea. I don't know if you're going to be into it. So, you know, it's fine if you're not. We don't have to do anything else, you know?"

"What," Carey said, and he didn't sound all that interested, but he was watching PK carefully.

PK grinned at him, going for it with all his bravado. "I could gag you," he said.

"What," Carey said again.

PK loosened his tie a little, tugging the knot loose and working it down. Carey's gaze followed his movement, and PK's pulse thudded in his ears.

"This tie is silk, you know that?" he said. "It'd be totally ruined. But I don't care. I don't care because of how fucking hot you'd look when I slipped it over your head and stuffed it in your mouth. How hot it would be to go down on you and all I'd be able to hear would be your muffled moans."

Carey's mouth was hanging open just a little, and his hands were clenched at his sides.

"Do you know how hot it would be if you knew you could say whatever you wanted into the gag? You could just let go. And I wouldn't be able to understand a word."

Carey's throat worked, and PK held his breath.

"Yeah," Carey said, and cleared his throat. "Yeah, okay. With the tie."

"Yeah?" PK said. He pulled the tie slowly over his head and shivered at the way Carey tracked the movement. "If you change your mind or want me to stop, you're gonna let me know, right?"

Carey smirked at him a little. "I know what a safe word is, PK. If I want you to stop, I'll tap my fingers." He demonstrated by reaching out with two fingers and tapping them against PK's bicep.

PK shuddered. "Okay," he said. "Though, at some point, you should definitely tell me more about what you use safe words for."

Carey's expression tightened a little, and PK realized that was edging close to a truth question and added hastily, "Much later, after this whole situation is over, I mean. Don't tell me now."

Carey rolled his eyes and tugged PK closer. "Come here," he said. "I want to touch you."

"Jesus," PK said, and he obediently leaned in to Carey and brought his hand up to curl under the back of Carey's head. "I'm going back to kissing you first, okay? Then the tie."

"Yeah," Carey said, and he pulled a move where he sank back onto the bed and pulled PK with him so that PK ended up lying on top with Carey's tongue in his mouth and their dicks lined up together perfectly. PK was too stunned to even be jealous Carey had managed something so smooth.

It was going to be over sooner than he'd like if that continued, though, so PK left one more sucking kiss on Carey's lower lip and sat up to unbutton his shirt. He made Carey rearrange himself on the bed, with his head propped up on a pillow, and then PK held out the tie, eyes locked on Carey's.

Carey nodded. PK slipped the loop of the tie around Carey's head and carefully tightened it. Gently, he pressed his fingers to the hinge of Carey's jaw to get him to open his mouth so PK could stuff both ends of the silk tie inside.

"Nod if you want to keep going," PK said, maintaining eye contact.

Carey's chest was rising and falling faster than usual, but he nodded immediately. PK grinned at him. "You look really hot," he said. "Purple is definitely your colour." He laughed a little at the way Carey's cheeks flushed and his eyes narrowed.

He made a muffled impatient noise, so PK straddled him, and leaned down to kiss his way over Carey's neck and shoulders. Carey shivered underneath him.

Carey's hands were stroking PK's shoulders and upper arms, one hand occasionally landing on the back of PK's neck and moving up to cup the back of his skull. PK liked the feel of Carey's hands on him. He liked that he could feel Carey's dick, thick and hard, pushing up against his ass. He licked Carey's right nipple, and grinned at the way Carey jerked and made a frantic muffled noise.

"That's it," PK murmured mindlessly.

The noises Carey was making were more frequent now that he seemed to have less compunction about keeping his mouth shut. It made PK wonder briefly if Carey was usually loud during sex, and heat flared in his gut at the thought.

He kissed across Carey's chest again, sloppy and random, and stroked his fingers down Carey's side. Warmth thrummed under PK's skin, but he didn't feel any of the urgency or desperation that had dominated the other times they'd had sex. Carey seemed willing to relax under PK's hands, the security of the gag seeming to make him feel more comfortable. PK had nothing bad to say about quick blowjobs, but something about this made him glow with a warmth and intensity he hadn't felt before.

When he looked up, Carey was staring down at where PK's cock was bobbing between them. His face was still flushed, and his pink lips were stretched around the bulk of the purple striped tie. When he swallowed, PK could see his Adam's apple bob in his throat. PK planted a hand on Carey's chest and ground his ass a little into Carey's hips. Carey let out a kind of whining sound that might have had words behind it, PK couldn't tell. He did it again, and met Carey's eyes this time, dark and wet and staring straight back at him.

Before PK could think twice, he said, "I really want your fingers inside me."

Carey's eyes slammed closed at the same time as his hands clamped down around PK's arms. The noise he made this time from behind the tie was obscene, and PK felt it tremble down his spine.

"If you want that, you gotta nod, Carey, please," he said.

Carey's eyes snapped open, flying right to PK's face, and he nodded.

PK grinned at him. "Okay," he said. "I gotta get the stuff, okay? I'll be right back."

Even so, Carey reached for him as he slid off to get to the bedside drawer for lube. When he straddled Carey's hips again, he leaned down to kiss the tender skin under Carey's jawline in apology. Carey shivered, but while PK was distracted by the scent of Carey's neck, he snatched the tube right out of PK's hand.

"Yeah?" PK murmured, and let Carey take his time coating two of his fingers and warming up the slick. When Carey made a demanding sort of noise and tugged at PK's thigh, PK's obligingly shuffled up the bed a little and braced himself on one elbow over Carey's body.

Carey stroked his one hand over PK's back, running down his spine and curling over the curve of his ass. The fingers of his other hand traced gently between PK's cheeks, stroking lightly over his hole but not pressing in. The tantalizing, teasing touch made PK ache, and he whined, "Carey." Carey slid just the tip of one slick finger inside, and PK gasped. It had been a long time since anyone had fucked him and from Carey's single fingertip he felt molten from the inside out. He pushed back into the pressure, more of Carey's long finger sinking inside him, and choked on a moan.

PK felt Carey's other hand poke him in the shoulder blade. His eyes flew open and went to Carey's face, not sure whether Carey wanted the gag off, or to stop altogether, or what. But Carey's eyebrows were raised and he was staring at PK with a questioning look on his face.

The trust in his expression nearly undid PK.

"Yeah, this is definitely okay," he said, his words only catching a little in his throat. "Definitely, definitely okay."

Carey's eyes crinkled at him, like he was trying to smile around the crumpled tie stuffed in his mouth, and PK grinned back at him, and then moaned again when Carey's finger crooked inside him.

Carey didn't tease him for much longer, pushing two fingers inside, and PK gasped at the stretch and the shiver that spread through his body. He stared down at the way Carey was sprawled beneath him, flushed and sweaty, so focused on finger fucking PK that he seemed to have forgotten the gag stuffed in his mouth. He met PK's gaze, and quirked an eyebrow in an expression that, despite the fact that he couldn't move his lips, was totally and completely a smirk.

PK fucked himself back onto Carey's hand and heard himself beg for another finger. Carey gave it to him and got his other hand on PK's dick, his grip hot and firm and perfect.

PK came riding three of Carey's fingers and cursing loudly, legs shaking, gasping for breath. He collapsed on top of Carey's chest and kissed sloppily at the skin of Carey's shoulder.

"Fuck," he said breathlessly. "I was gonna make you come first this time."

Carey made a small muffled noise around the gag, and slid his fingers out of PK's ass. PK sucked in a breath. Then he reached between them to grab Carey's slick hand and wrap both of their fingers around Carey's cock. They didn't have a great angle, with PK still sprawled on top of Carey, but it only took a few pulls and PK biting at the lobe of Carey's ear for Carey to arch up and spill messily between them.

They lay there for a few minutes, until PK lifted his head and said, "Nod if it's okay to take the tie off now."

Carey blinked his eyes open and nodded. He could have done it himself, of course, could have done it at any time, but it felt right for PK to pull the crumpled fabric gently out of Carey's stretched-open mouth, loosen the knot of the tie, and tug it over Carey's head. The tie was a total mess, but PK didn't feel a single pang of regret, not with Carey was staring at him with a deep, dark gaze, his tongue poking out to run over his pink lips.

Carey crooked a smile at him, and then he reached up to tug PK down to kiss him, deep and slow.

"I'll let you make me come first next time," he said, once he let him go, and PK laughed down at him.

"A challenge I'm willing to accept," he said, and rolled off Carey to get a cloth to clean them both up.

"Thanks," Carey said.

He didn't seem eager to move yet, and PK was overwhelmed with the urge to never let him leave, so he said, "You should stay."

Carey looked up at him. "Yeah?" he said.

"Definitely," PK said firmly.

They tried to get under the duvet at the same time and bumped into each other, and both started laughing. But they slid under together, and then Carey was naked in PK's bed next to him, warm and relaxed and sleepy, and PK's heart felt so full he wasn't sure he'd be able to stand it.

"Triple low five," he said finally, softly into the darkness, once Carey's breathing had slowed. He wasn't sure if he wanted Carey to hear him or not, but either way, there was silence from the other side of the bed.


When he woke up, the sun was coming in through the blinds and Carey was lying on his back in PK's bed, staring at the ceiling.

"Hi," PK said, smiling at him.

Carey rolled his head towards PK.

"Hi," he said.

Impulsively, PK leaned over and kissed Carey softly, a gentle press of lips and quick swipe of his tongue.

Carey blinked at him and smiled.

"I have to go feed the dogs," he said.

"Oh," PK said and tamped down his irrational disappointment at the thought of Carey leaving. "Sure, of course."

Carey said, awkwardly, "You could come if you wanted. We could have breakfast at my place."

"Oh," PK said. He was pretty sure that a dumb smile was threatening to take over his entire face. "Well. Do you have bacon?"

Carey swatted his arm.

"I mean, yes," PK said, grinning. "Definitely yes."

"You're the worst," Carey said, climbing out of bed and bending over to find his boxers on the floor. "I hate you."

"Yeah, right, you totally love me," PK said, taking the opportunity to ogle Carey's ass.

Then Carey's words caught up with his brain. "Hey! You just told a lie!"

Carey turned and blinked at him. "What?"

"Unless you secretly do actually hate me, which is clearly a logical impossibility, you just told a lie," PK said. "Holy shit. Are you cured? Is the curse broken?"

Carey stared at him and then down at his hands, as if they would tell him anything.

"And you didn't even have to win the Cup," PK added, grinning.

"I have three feet," Carey said experimentally. "My dogs are chihuahuas."

PK laughed.

Carey grinned at him, eyes bright and crinkling at the corners. "You give the worst blowjobs, I hate your smile, and you look terrible in purple."

"Ouch," PK said, putting a hand to his heart. "I'm cut deep."

As PK grinned at him happily, Carey's smile faded just a little, and then he bent down abruptly to pull his jeans on.

With a sinking heart, PK realized that if the truth spell were over, Carey didn't really need him anymore for tension relief. He thought about Carey's wide eyes staring at the ceiling when PK had woken up, and wondered what revelation Carey must have had during the night to satisfy the terms of the truth compulsion.

Carey must have come to the same realization, because he looked at PK again with a strange expression of guilt and determination.

"I really need to say thank you again," Carey said, as sincerely as he possibly could while standing in just his jeans in the middle of PK's bedroom. "Without you -- this -- I don't know if I could have made it."

"I told you, you don't need to thank me," PK said, stubborn and protective and defiant all at once. He didn't want Carey to say what was on his mind if it meant that whatever was between them was over, but he also wanted to hear what Carey wanted to say with his whole heart. He added, truthfully, knowing that his heart might be broken in the next moment, "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Carey didn't quite meet his eyes. "It was asking a lot of you," he said.

"Not anything I didn't want to give you," PK said fiercely.

Carey's eyes darted up to his. "I should -- you deserve to know the truth. The original one from this summer, I mean. The truth in my heart that I didn't know how to speak out loud."

PK swallowed. "Not the Cup," he said.

"Not the Cup," Carey agreed. "I was -- I was starting to have feelings for someone I didn't think I should have feelings for. That I didn't want to admit I might have feelings for."

PK's heart fluttered in his throat. "You were?" he said.

"I didn't let myself think that it was something I could ever have," he said. "Until last night."

"Carey --"

"Just let me," Carey said. "Let me say this."

PK nodded mutely.

"I rationalized everything away as you being the most supportive and helpful teammate -- friend -- a guy could wish for. But I wanted it to mean more. And I  was thinking last night that there were people I wanted to tell. People who I wanted to know about you -- about this. Not the media. Yet. Someday maybe. I think it's -- you're -- worth it."

Carey paused. PK's whole body was blooming bright with love and affection and happiness, and he couldn't keep the smile off his face. Carey added, "If it doesn't mean the same thing to you -- that's okay. I'm not assuming --"

"It does!" PK burst out. "It does mean the same."

A smile curled on Carey's lips, and PK's heart turned over.

"Yeah?" Carey said.

"It means I'm in love with you," PK said, grinning at him. "You idiot."

"Well, that's convenient," Carey said. "I'm in love with you, too."

Those were words that PK hadn't ever really thought he'd hear, even though he'd thought about them in the depths of his most selfish heart while Carey was under the truth spell. But they sounded so much sweeter and more honest coming out of Carey's mouth without any stupid spell at all, just of his own free will.

PK reached out to touch Carey and pull him closer. Carey kissed him, his hands warm on PK's skin.

"We still have to go feed the dogs," Carey said, pulling away, his breath coming fast. "They're gonna start gnawing on the couch."

"You can buy a new one," PK said, ducking his head to press a sucking kiss to Carey's throat.

"You're the worst," Carey said, the smile audible in his voice.

"Liar," PK whispered, and Carey laughed out loud.

"You're right, I'm totally a liar," he said.

PK got distracted kissing the warm skin of Carey's jawline, and he almost missed what Carey said when he leant in to lick at the shell of PK's ear.

"Hey, PK," Carey said. "Triple low five."

There was so much wrapped up in those three words -- hockey and trust and intimacy and triumph and love -- that PK shivered and pressed himself as close as he could to Carey. He was grinning so hard his cheeks were hurting.

"Triple low five," he whispered back.